Vendors in Kampala

Street vendors in Kampala city – an opportunity for design


Design competition at Makerere University

Market and street vendors in Uganda contribute greatly to the level of business activity in Kampala city. Thousands of these vendors commute into the city every morning to set up their stands, displays in markets and on street sides, and begin yet another day to sell as much as possible.

On one hand, the street markets mean opportunties for people to bring their goods to a reliable city market. But on the other hand, the public is continuously exposed to risks and concerns.

Some of these risks include increased traffic jam caused by market vendors who display their products on the street because of lack of space within city markets. Furthermore, poor hygiene among street food vendors, who have no access to facilities such as clean water and public toilets, is another risk.

In its efforts to rid the city of these risks and inconveniences, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) banned the operation of street vendors on Kampala streets in 2013. The city authority hoped the street vendors would leave the streets and start operation in city markets, but this did not happen as markets were already occupied mostly by politically connected city traders.

As of the 14th of May 2015, KCCA allowed street vendors to operate in the city on weekends since the city is less crowded on these days. However, the lack of storage and display space, facilities such as fresh water and bins as well as mechanisms to aid mobility and flexibility still plague the everyday life of a street market vendor.

Design without Borders saw this as an opportunity for design and suggested to create a competition for Makerere students around this challenge.

Second year students at the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts were invited to create a solution that addresses issues like mobility, ergonomics and ease of production:

  • Eases movement, display and storage of vendors’ products
  • Does not hinder vehicular or pedestrian traffic within markets and on the street
  • Is aesthetically appealing and fits in visually with the city or/and market contexts
  • Instils a sense of pride and value for street and market vendors
  • Enhances hygiene of food products sold by street vendors
  • Increases safety for both vendors and pedestrians

The competition follows in line with Design without Borders’ design process as a way of sharing knowledge of the process with the students. In contrast to the previous competition, the students have had to find manufacturers themselves to make their prototypes in the chosen material. The aim with building the prototypes is both to provide the students with a real-life experience of collaborating with small-scale production companies, and to increase their hands-on experience with having such a prototype built.

The KCCA is involved in the competition process and have provided advice and input on suitable solutions. They will also participate in the evaluation of the best solution.

The student groups have so far tackled the task at hand with very dynamic ideas, curiously looking into ways of improving the street vending experience of food, drinks, clothes and accessories.

The research phase, the conceptualization phase and final design phase are now completed and with just the prototyping phase left, there are promising product ideas that might very well become a driver for improved relations between the city authority and the city vendors.

The winners will be announced in April 2016.